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How to Secure the Gift: 10 Priceless Tips from Jerry Panas

Jerry Panas is clearly one of our industry’s greats. I’ve learned so much from him over the years, and I hope you have studied his advice too.Jerry Panas

Today, I’m celebrating the fact that he’s joining us for Tuesday’s amazing Telesummit on “The Art of Asking: How to Nail the Gift.”

We have 5 of our industry’s foremost experts coaching us on how to secure those gifts every time!

Find out more and register for your seat in the Telesummit here. 

Jerry can’t be with us live on Tuesday – so I’ll be recording an exclusive interview with him and sending it to Telesummit attendees.  Jerry and I will be discussing his best-seller: “Asking: A 59 Minute Guide to Everything Board Members, Volunteers and Staff Must Know to Secure the Gift.”

Here is some of Jerry’s BEST advice on how to NAIL the gift:

1. Getting the visit is the toughest part.

Jerry says that if you get the visit, you’re 85% of the way to getting the gift.

He believes the best way to secure the visit is to send a letter first before calling your donor. Don’t forget – you may have to be unyieldingly persistent to be able to get the visit with the donor.

My take: I like to send a pretty straightforward email first and ask for permission: “can we come visit and bring them up to date about our amazing project, and to see if they might be interested in it.”

2. Be willing to fail.

Remember that fundraising is a numbers game. You’ll win some and you’ll lose some.

You won’t win 100% of the time. If you give it your best, and you go out on a limb to make the ask, then that’s all you can do.

It's not always going to be a "yes" - just remember that it's a numbers game!

It’s not always going to be a “yes” – just remember that it’s a numbers game!

My take: It’s comforting to me that it really is a numbers game. I figure that if I get 50% of them to say Yes that I am doing a fabulous job!

3. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Jerry says he believes in the 3 E’s: Empathy, Energy, and Enthusiasm. Empathy allows you to truly enter the world of your donor.

Energy helps to spark enthusiasm and joy.  Enthusiasm gets you to the heart of things – and may be the most effective ingredient of all.

My take: Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm!”

4. Keep your antenna alert.

Use your instincts to watch your donor’s reactions carefully.

Body language will tell you so much about whether your donor is really with you – or not.

Enthusiasm can take you far!

Enthusiasm can take you far!

My take: my radar is my best friend when I’m in front of a donor. Who said that 80% of communication is not in words? 

5. Talk only 25% of the time.

Jerry says listening will help you learn about your donor’s wishes and desires.

And your prospect is more willing to “buy” when he’s doing the talking. Listening puts the spotlight on your prospect and makes him comfortable and happy.

My take: We all say in fundraising: “Listen your way to the gift.”

6. Donors give to the magic of an idea.

Jerry says to forget your organization’s needs. (And I recommend that you completely eliminate the word “needs”  from your materials and your solicitations!)

He says to sell the answer, the solution to your community’s problem.

My take: Too many people talk too much about the specifics, the money, the “need.” Instead you’ve got to focus on a happy vision: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if. .  . “

7. You never know until you ask.

Ok, just know that most people are totally petrified about asking. It’s ok. Ask anyway!

You can’t talk someone into a gift. The important thing is just to ask!

Listen your way to the gift.

Listen your way to the gift.

My take: I’m nervous about it too! But with this coaching, I feel MUCH better prepared!

8. Your materials are not important in an ask.

Jerry says it’s your oral presenation that will sell the donor.

He only uses materials to show the sketch of a building or smiling, happy people. He only leaves the campaign materials at the end of a visit – or not at all!

My take: I totally agree. Too much money and effort is spent on fancy materials and not enough on developing your 11 minute jaw-dropping presentation.

9. Take only 11 minutes to present your case.

Jerry says to present the all drama, the need, the urgency – and how the gift will benefit so many people. And do it in 11 or 12 minutes!

My take: You CAN pack it all into 11 minutes. Just choose your words carefully  - and time yourself when you rehearse. 

Your donor says "Yes!"

Your donor says “Yes!”

10. I would like you to consider a gift of . . .

This is the moment of truth. And this is exactly HOW you need to frame the ask.

THEN what do you do? You shut up. And you sit silently for a pretty long time – until the donor talks again.

My take: Make a deal with the person accompanying you to kick them under the table if they start to talk.

Remember the donor is having a committee meeting in her head about this gift – and you dare not interrupt!

Learn how to nail the BIG gifts!

Do you want to sit down with your biggest donors and come away with a generous gift? Our Telesummit gurus will teach you how to make it happen!

Join us so you can raise the gift your nonprofit needs so urgently!

Find out more and register for your seat in the Telesummit here.  

And what are YOUR OWN tips for securing the gift? I’d love to hear them.

Leave me a commit below and share your tips with us all!

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  • Simona Biancu

    Interesting post, Gail! In my experience suggestions number 8 and 9 are the most challenging. First of all because – I completely agree! – accurate printed material cannot replace a good interaction. Enthusiasm, smiles, commitment toward your cause are the main feature during a meeting.

    For what regards number 9: well, I have to admit that 11 or 12 minutes are challenging. But I agree with the need to be focused and precise, so…this will be my focus too!

    Thanks for sharing these tips, Gail!

  • Mark Williams

    I’m not sure that quality campaign materials are unimportant, especially if you have a large volunteer gift-seeking committee. The way to ensure that each volunteer remains on message and covers important points in their presentation is to provide them with good material – probably including a campaign brochure, table of gifts, and recognition opportunities. In addition, a short campaign video can be invaluable in conveying key messages and an emotional appeal. So, in my view well structured campaign materials can play an important role – not everyone is as well practiced in making a well-structured ask as Jerry Panas!

  • gailperry

    Hi Simona – agree about keeping it to 11 or 12 minutes! But how long can you reasonably expect to keep your donor’s interest – really? And I am NOT a fan of tons of material – it’s not worth the time and energy poured into it!
    best, Gail